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Nursing home operator loses license following sexual abuse investigation

January 22, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Associate Editor
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A nursing home owner has lost his license following investigations into sexual abuse of residents.

The Nursing Home Administrators board forced Bill Dronen to surrender his license. Dronen was the operator of Cashmere Convalescent Center in Cashmere, Wash. The facility is now under control of Dronen’s brother Mark, who has a clean license.

A join state and federal government  report found the center violated mandatory reporting rules and that it “failed to recognize the behaviors as sexual abuse” and “did not act to protect” residents.

Multiple nurses and staff witnessed a male resident with dementia was sexually abusing female residents with dementia. Nothing was done until police were called.

The abuse started in mid-January 2015 when a housekeeper saw a male resident standing over a woman with his jeans around his legs, holding onto her hand and forcing her to touch his genitals. The housekeeper reported the incident to the Director of Nursing Services, who viewed what was going on as nothing more than consensual activities between dementia residents. The director said nothing could be done until the man crossed the line.

A nurse witnessed the same man pull another resident’s hands to his groin. The nurse made eye contact with the man to get him to stop but didn’t notify anyone. The man also tried to return to the first resident’s room two more times.

In February, a staff member saw the man take the key to the dining room, where he was found fondling another dementia resident’s breasts. Police were called because the man was being unruly. “He’s getting more and more sexual with some of his exploits,” a male caller told police dispatchers.  

In April, the Washington Department of Social and Human Services ordered Cashmere to write proper policies for recognizing sexual conduct and consent, some the law already requires. The center promised to increase staff training and agreed to pay a $6,300 fine, less than the cost to live in the center for a month.

The state Department of Health has reopened its investigation into the head nurse. A decision is yet to come. 

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